We spent the first whole week in what I would call Nicaragua 101. The family we stayed with took us under their wing, it was as if we had known them forever. We learned about Nicaraguan customs, their currency, and their bad and good characteristics as a people group; we learned about their food, safety and all the names of things. We also had the opportunity to give away an entire huge floral suit case full of clothes that we had brought down to a house full of girls that have no where else to go. They are with an organization called Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH). And naturally we had a dance party with them, where I confidently and comfortably embarrassed myself. We learned how to navigate using taxis and public buses. We learned that you must try to communicate even if you only know 10 Spanish words, hand gestures and miming is more universal than you think and the worst that can happen is you look foolish and they will warm up to you. They also took us all over the place, Granada, Masaya, and the beach house at Salinas Grandes. After our class on culture and practical living in the third world, we set a date to head out to the beach, la playa de Popoyo because one of my contacts, a friend of Christian my boyfriend that had been living in Nica for a while now, finally got back to me. A bout with diarrhea and a birthday celebration postponed our journey a few days
As we embarked on our solo journey out from under the wing of our wonderful hosts we got a little bit nervous, but God was with us. We boarded the express bus to Rivas, a city about half way to Popoyo Beach, our final destination and our contact Keith. Now when I am talking about Nicaraguan public transport, I am talking old yellow school buses purchased from the US at a good price when they are to old for us to use. Needless to say a bumpy ride. About 15 minutes into it a man in a yellow shirt stood up and began to address the captive audience. He was speaking in Spanish of course, but I managed to figure out that he was talking about Jesus! Public bus evangelism that’s my style!!!! So I just began to pray for his ministry and all sorts of other stuff. We got his contact information but failed miserably to communicate more. After that I felt like I needed to talk to the lady sitting behind us. As I began to attempt I realized how fatal it was going to be after about five minutes of mini dictionary torture I was about to give up and this girl comes out of nowhere. She sits down next to the lady I was trying to speak to and says in clear crisp English,
"Hello my name is Maria, I can help you translate."
What a God given gift! She ended up being a Nicaraguan tourist major and she is doing an internship on the Twin Volcano Island of Ometepe. Her dream job is to own a hotel on an island. I immediately told her that she could run my hotel! Something that was odd though was that she was so adamant that we had to see her island. She invited us to go with her to the hotel that she works at and get a room for 14$ a night and continue our journey the next day. My favorite part of the trip as I think back on it was getting to watch my brother learn how to hear God's voice. I believe that God intentionally hid what we were supposed to do from me at times so that he could teach my brother about his voice. Any time I didn't know what to do Matt did and was sure of it. And in this moment I hesitated, I had a plan for the first time on this trip; I even had a rough time of arrival. But Matt was sure that we should go, so I threw my only plan out the window and we went! The owner of the Hotel Island Landing was a very passionate man name John Tansey. He is working towards self sufficiency and is very involved in the community. We told him about our vision and how we are in the market to buy land. He immediately began to tell us about this piece of land that used to be 6 million $ and now is only 2 million $. That in my opinion is way out of my price range but I have learned not to limit God so he took us out to see the property. The owners of the land are from the same organization as the girls we met in Managua, NPH. (I love when God makes things full circle) It was HUGE! The facilities can house 400 kids comfortably. There is a huge mess hall, school facility and recreational space. It also has enough land to be completely self sufficient and a chicken growing operation in motion. And it is even equipped with visitor dorms, directors home and maternity ward/small medical facility. My brother and I thought the same thing at the same time "Lya." The niece of the family we have been staying with is a famous jazz singer and has very well connected Nicaraguan friends. She is also the co-founder for the organization that is protecting the third largest rainforest in the world right now. This is to big for me to do alone but we are going to together transition this piece of land from a soon to be abandoned orphanage to a Nicaraguan University for sustainable agriculture, veterinary medicine, and the arts!
If you think the story ends here you are wrong, we are only 2 days into week two!
Every where we went we met people that will all be a part of my future ministry but for the sake of your time I can not go into detail about it all. Just know that by the end of our trip we had a large pile of crunched ripped pieces of scrap paper all containing contact information. This entry just doesn't do it justice, but that means I will always have more stories to tell.
*Part 3 soon to come*